« PreviousContinue »
therefore desirous to hear more fully what was the nature of His instructions. St. Mark informs us that on this occasion, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, Repent ye, and believe the gospel.65 Thus He enforced the necessity of turning to God, and seeking the blessings of that salvation which He came into the world to bestow upon the children of men.
On this occasion He stood by the lake of Gennesaret, called also the sea of Galilee, and saw two ships standing by the lake; but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And He entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. This was a plan which our Saviour appears to have adopted on several occasions, when instructing the multitude. It is mentioned by St. Matthew, that He thus delivered the parable of the sower. The subject of His discourse at this time is not stated by the Evangelist. A specimen of the nature of His instructions had been given in the preceding chapter, when the Lord Jesus applied to Himself the declaration of the prophet Isaiah respecting the Messiah, and the purport of His
65 Mark i. 14, 15.
66 Matthew xiii. 2.
the poor ;
ministry: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to
He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And He began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.67
The object of the Evangelist on the present occasion was to introduce the account of the miracle which was then wrought. For when our Saviour had spoken to the people as long as He thought proper; when He had left speaking, He said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. He directed him to attend to the proper duties of his calling in life, to catch fish for his support; this being the way in which he was accustomed to obtain his livelihood. Religion does not require men to neglect the duties of their proper calling; but on the contrary, it directs them not to be slothful in business, yet at the same time, to be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.68 And Simon answering said unto Him, Master, we have toiled all the night and have taken nothing ; nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net. His utmost efforts had been to no purpose during the time that was best adapted to the pursuit of his occupation; which had been very discouraging to him. But to show his respect for one who had given such valuable instruction, he was willing to obey the command, although he scarcely expected that it would be of any use.
67 Luke iv. 18-21.
68 Romans xii. 11.
And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes, and their net brake, or was ready to do so.
And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. They were so heavily laden, that they feared they should scarcely be able to convey their cargo in safety to the shore. Thus the wonder-working power of the Lord Jesus was displayed to these poor fishermen; and their attendance upon Him was amply repaid by His bounty. They had no reason to regret having taken Him on board their little bark, or having spent their time in listening to His blessed instructions. Even in a temporal point of view, they were fully recompensed, though they had not previously formed any such expectation. It was asked respecting an ancient servant of God, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast Thou not made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on
Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 69
every side ?
69 Job i. 9, 10.
True religion frequently brings temporal blessings in its train. But if these be looked for as its rewards, those who expect them are likely to find themselves mistaken in the object of their pursuit.
This miracle was not designed to show that temporal rewards attend those who profess to serve God; but to encourage these poor people who waited upon the Lord Jesus Christ to place their confidence in Him. That Peter had not attended on Christ from any sinister motive of acquiring temporal gain, is evident from the astonishment which filled his mind on seeing this miraculous draught of fishes. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, 0 Lord. So great a benefit being so unexpectedly conferred upon him, he was filled with fear and amazement; which he expressed in these remarkable words. His own sinfulness, being contrasted in his mind with the almighty power which the Lord Jesus had manifested, greatly oppressed him. He was humbled by a sense of his sinfulness. He fell down at Jesus' knees. The posture of his body showed the abasement of his soul. He confessed, I am a sinful man, O Lord. Whenever a sinner is brought to the knowledge of himself, this humiliation and confession of sin follow. True humility of heart is always produced in those who receive forgiveness from God. A sense of the evil of sin, and of their pollution in His sight on account of it, humbles them before Him. Have we been thus abased at the footstool of the mercy-seat? Has a sense of guilt brought us to our knees to implore forgiveness at His hands? If we have right ideas of ourselves, our confession will be similar to this of St. Peter; and we shall make it with the same feelings that possessed bis mind, with confusion of face and self-abasement before the majesty of Him, who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity.70 We are sinners both by nature and by practice; by nature, as the descendants of fallen parents and ancestors, who have rebelled against God; and by practice, being ourselves transgressors of His holy, just, and good law. And if the God of heaven had cast off our whole race for ever from His favour, He would have been righteous in His judgment; we should have had no just cause of complaint against Him. But mercy rejoiceth against judgment, and therefore we are not consumed.72